French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday warned President Joe Biden against escalating rhetoric against Russia.
Speaking to broadcaster France 3, Macron said that Biden should avoid an “escalation of words and actions” after Biden delivered a speech in Warsaw on Saturday in which he said Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” and also characterized Putin as a “butcher” after meeting with Ukrainian refugees.
“I wouldn’t use those kinds of terms, because I continue to speak with President Putin,” said Macron, who has been part of diplomatic efforts to negotiate an end to the war with both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“We want to stop the war that Russia has launched in Ukraine without waging war and without escalation. This is the objective,” Macron added.
Macron said he would speak with Putin again in the coming hours or day.
Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia also said on Facebook that the next round of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will be held from Monday through Wednesday in Turkey.
Following Biden’s comments, the administration said that his remarks about Putin not being able to remain in power were ad-libbed and Secretary of State Antony Blinken asserted there is no “strategy of regime change in Russia.”
Biden’s comments drew mixed reactions from American lawmakers.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., highlighted Putin’s efforts to overthrow Ukraine’s government in an interview with CNN’s State of the Union.
“There is one individual that’s trying to make regime change in Europe, and that’s Vladimir Putin trying to change the regime in Ukraine,” Warner said.
Warner went on to defer to the administration’s position when asked if Putin should be removed from power in Russia.
“The stated policy is the White House’s point and that has not changed,” he said. “It is up to the Russian people to determine who’s going to be in power in the Kremlin.”
Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, was more critical of Biden, saying he “gave a good speech” overall but delivered “a horrendous gaffe” at the end that represented a large escalation of tensions.
“I think most people who don’t deal in the lane of foreign relations don’t realize that those nine words that he uttered would cause the kind of eruption that they did,” said Risch. “But anytime you say or even as he did, suggest that the policy was regime change, it’s gonna cause a huge problem.”
“This administration has done everything they can to stop escalating. There’s not a whole lot more you can do to escalate than to call for regime change,” he added.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Olga Stefanishyna, told ABC News’ This Week that it was “really important to have the sense of an international leadership and understanding of the tragedy which is happening” in Biden’s remarks.
“It was really important because in this time of the severe war and nearly all possible war crimes have been committed against the country, but also the eastern Ukrainian people,” she said.
However, Stefanishyna said Western leaders must ensure that Ukraine receives “any possible assistance, including military, to be capable to defend itself and to hold the European sky safe while the broader political consensus on how to stop this aggression.”
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